Trade and Industry ‘Most Secretive Institution’
THE Polytechnic of Namibia was chosen as the Most Open Institution in Namibia, while the Ministry of Trade and Industry received the award for Most Secretive according to a study done by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) recently.
The second Most Open Institution is the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. The second Most Secretive is Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR). The study started on 20 June through to 5 August this year and primarily targeted Government institutions and parastatals, which were selected randomly depending on the relevance of the work they are mandated to do for the country.
The nine institutions included the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Labour and Social Welfare, Works and Transport, Gender Equality and Child Welfare as well the Polytechnic of Namibia. Others were the University of Namibia, NCCI, Namibia Medical Care (NMC) and NWR.
According to the researcher and Programme Manager of MISA Namibia, Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi, the survey was based on qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection, with the first category focusing on websites for the selected Government ministries and public institutions. “The aim was to find out which among them has the most useful, relevant information and is wellorganised or poorly organised.
The second category entailed letters to request information from selected institutions seeking specific information,” he said. He added that, of the four Government institutions surveyed, only three had websites that were functional, whilst the fourth (Ministry of Trade and Industry) was under construction.
“All of the four Government ministries did not have financial reports or statements listed on their websites, as well as policies or procurement procedures. Information on signed contracts were virtually absent from all Government websites,” he said.
The University of Namibia and the Polytechnic tied in their website survey score, while Namibia Medical Care’s website fared well as compared to the poorly evaluated NWR and the NCCI. The NWR had the most beautiful website with striking pictures, but had the least information in terms of organisational structures, reports, procurement procedures and even budgets and expenditure.
The NCCI had plenty of information on news and updates for its members, but did not carry any financial reports, vacancies, policies or procurement procedures, according the research document prepared by Karuaihe-Upi. On the written requests, Karuaihe- Upi explained that of the nine institutions selected, only three, namely the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare, NMC and the Polytechnic, responded to written requests.
“Some institutions like the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare added information that did not form part of our questions. This led us to believe that the Ministry is generally open and transparent in their dealings with the public. The ones which did not respond at all are Work and Transport, Labour and Social Welfare, Trade and Industry as well as the NCCI and NWR.
“All requests were done via email and followed-up with phone calls to find if the written requests have indeed been received. The results of the survey, which scored the institution that did not respond to the survey at 2/9, indicated that there is no access to information for citizens,” he said.
The recommendation, according to Karuaihe-Upi, is that institutions should work harder on making information available to the public, especially when presented with written requests.
“Institutions should aspire to be transparent and to have an open door policy where members of the public will feel free to call or walk in and demand information as this is their right,” he said.
The institutions in general to the survey scored as follows: University of Namibia (8/10 and 2/10), Polytechnic (8/10 and 9/9), NMC (7/10 and 9/9), NWR (2/10 and 2/9), NCCI (3/10 and 1/9), Min of Gender (6/10 and 9/9), Min of Labour (6/10 and 2/9), Min or Works (7/10 and 2/9), Min of Trade (0/9).
*First points indicated are for the website and the second score is for the written requests.